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Present Day Attitude to Calvinism – B. B. Warfield
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Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (November 5, 1851 February 16, 1921) was the principal of Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. Some conservative Presbyterians consider him to be the last of the great Princeton theologians before the split in 1929 that formed Westminster Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Warfield was born near Lexington, Kentucky on November 5, 1851. His parents were William and Mary Cabell (Breckinridge) Warfield, originally from Virginia and quite wealthy. His maternal grandfather was the Presbyterian preacher Robert Jefferson Breckinridge (1800-1871) the son of John Breckinridge a former United States Senator and Attorney General. Warfield’s uncle was John C. Breckinridge, the fourteenth Vice President of the United States and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.
For a short time in 1876 he preached in Presbyterian churches in Concord, Kentucky and Dayton, Ohio as a “supply pastor” — the latter church calling him to be their ordained minister (which he refused). In late 1876 Warfield and his new wife moved to Germany where he studied under Ernst Luthardt and Franz Delitzsch. Then he became an instructor at Western Theological Seminary, which is now called Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
In 1881 Warfield wrote a joint article with A. A. Hodge on the inspiration of the Bible. It drew attention because of its scholarly and forceful defense of the inerrancy of the Bible. In many of his writings, Warfield attempted to demonstrate that the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy was simply orthodox Christian teaching and not merely a concept invented in the nineteenth century. His passion was to refute the liberal element within Presbyterianism and within Christianity at large.
“If such be the value and use of doctrine the systematic theologian is preeminently a preacher of the gospel; and the end of his work is obviously not merely the logical arrangement of the truths which come under his hand, but the moving of men, through their power, to love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves; to choose their portion with the Savior of their souls; to find and hold Him precious; and to recognize and yield to the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit whom He has sent. . .For this he needs to be suffused at all times with a sense of the unspeakable worth of the revelation which lies before him as the source of his material and with the personal bearings of its separate truths on his own heart and life; he needs to have had and to be having a full, rich and deep religious experience of the great doctrines with which he deals; he needs to be living close to his God to be resting always on the bosom of his Redeemer, to be filled at all times with the manifest influences of the Holy Spirit. The student of systematic theology needs a very sensitive religious nature, a most thoroughly consecrated heart, and an outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon him such as will fill him with that spiritual discernment, without which all native intellect is in vain. He needs to be not merely a student, not merely a thinker, not merely a systematizer, not merely a teacher — he needs to be like the beloved disciple himself in the highest, truest and holiest sense a divine.”